Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which just passed the House by a vote of 228 to 130. Below are the Speaker's remarks.
“Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman [Mr. Gordon] for yielding and for his kind words. Most especially, I thank him for his great leadership. Few people have ever served in this Congress, and outside the Congress, have done more to promote science, science, science, science agenda than Bart Gordon.
“Sadly, for that issue, Mr. Gordon, this will be the last bill that he will bring to the floor. And I want to take the occasion to thank him for his tremendous leadership as Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, for being a leader on these issues. When the report came out about the gathering storm, he was the first to say, ‘We need this.' We need to not only respond to it, he had already taken initiatives recognizing what would be in that report, seeing what was happening to science, technology, engineering, math, all the rest of it in our country.
“On these occasions, I am reminded, Madam Speaker, that nearly 50 years ago, in launching the initiative to send a man to the moon and back safely and within 10 years, President John F. Kennedy summed up Americans' common commitment to innovation and competitiveness when he said: ‘The vows of this nation can be fulfilled only if we are first, and therefore we intend to be first. Our leadership in science and in industry,' he said, ‘our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others all require us to make this effort.'
“Over the past half-century since then, Americans have lived up to these words. Science and technological innovation have formed the backbone of our progress as a people and our prosperity as a nation.
“And today, we have the opportunity to play our part in that same tradition: to support the COMPETES Act, to reaffirm our leadership ‘in science and technology,' to keep America first.
“Again, few have done more for this cause than Chairman Bart Gordon, who recognized the urgency of this challenge early on and has never stopped fighting to keep science and technology at the top of our agenda. And to the distinguished Ranking Member, one of the beauties of this agenda, this Innovation Agenda, is that there is really nothing partisan about it. It isn't ideological. It is scientific. It is about keeping America number one and using the best resources intellectually in our country, technologically, to have us be competitive in the world economy.
“In acting to update and extend the COMPETES Act, we will spur innovation, invest in cutting-edge research, modernize manufacturing, and increase opportunity. You know the provisions. Others have spoken to them. The gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Kind, has talked about the importance of STEM education - science, technology, engineering, and math - and how important that is to the fulfillment of the people, our students, but also to our competitiveness internationally, the success of our economy.
“With this bill, we will lay the foundation for new industries that provide good jobs for our workers; that open new markets for American products; that offer more students, more young people, and entrepreneurs a better chance to live out the American dream.
“Simply put, we will continue to ‘rise above the gathering storm' - and keep America number one.
“The COMPETES Act is a central component of our Innovation Agenda - rolled out by Democrats five years ago to ensure our nation's economic competitiveness around the globe and double basic research funding. Yes, as has been mentioned, the COMPETES Act was signed by President Bush, and now will be signed by President Obama. But I wish to acknowledge that it was only until we got into the Recovery Act that we were able to get the substantial funding to move forward with these initiatives. We had a little down payment before that, but we got serious about our commitment in the Recovery Act. As part of that effort, we passed the Recovery Act, investing $17 billion for basic research, $17 billion for basic research and $19 billion to promote the adoption of health IT.
“We've dedicated $11 billion to improve our smart grid capabilities, and provided more than $7 billion to expand broadband access nationwide--very important for us to do so in rural areas. Through a series of actions, the Democratic-led Congress has extended broadband to rural and underserved areas, invested in clean energy jobs and energy independence, and helped spur the development of new technologies.
“The America COMPETES Act builds on that record of achievement. This bill is about good-paying jobs for American workers, strong American leadership in the global economy, an investment in America's students, and long-term prosperity for America's families and businesses.
“In voting ‘aye' today, we can come together for innovation, for competitiveness, for our prosperity. I urge all of our colleagues to support the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act.”